That Ford Escape dilemma

As much as I love the Ford Escape, I can’t seem to stop ranting about that glitch in the design of it’s air-conditioner. It does not have a number one or low setting. Technically, it has, but you can only use it on the setting where the air outside goes in. And since obviously no one in Manila would ever choose that setting, we’re always stuck with number two regardless of how hot or cold it is outside.

From this I realized a couple of things. Girls are generally more sensitive to cold weather, in Baguio, you definitely need to turn on your aircon, no amount of music can drown a car aircon’s blower and finally, all Ford Escape owners are aware of this problem.

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Car Audio in the Philippines

Car Audio or Mobile Audio is a very active and defined subculture in the world of automobiles. There are publications, competitions and organizations dedicated solely to it. I’m sure you’ve seen magazines from your favorite stands entitled Car Audio & Electronics or Car Sound & Performance. Have you ever wondered how they never run out of topics? It’s because there’s a never-ending supply of improved head units, speakers, subwoofers, etc., for upgrade-hungry consumers.

In the Philippines, car audio was really hot back in the late 90’s; the era of the Greenhills sound-offs, where cars would park at the parking lot across Music Museum just to blast off their radios. This was the pre-street racing, pre-Libis era. You wonder where those bass-heads are now? Well, subcultures never die, they just stop being an “it” thing.

Locally there are two forums dedicated entirely to the local car audio scene. One is www.kotseaudioclub.com and another is www.aaenthusiast.com. They are not just sub-forums in those local car sites, well at least that’s how they started; they are sites on their own, with hundreds of active members posting away everyday. In car audio, there are two obvious categories namely SQ (Sound Quality) & SPL (Sound Pressure Level). Those two alone spark up threads lasting ten pages long or more. There are also local competitions for each category.

I love car audio but these sites do not show up in search engines; at least under the obvious search terms I picked. I was surprised when I arrived at www.kotseaudioclub.com some two years ago. I couldn’t believe how active it was, yet not loud enough to have reached the car-related searches I did. I’m also going to start a Car Audio category in this blog. I’m not a guru but I do get enough mileage by auditioning systems and installing systems.

Air Suspension in the Philippines

By my count, this is Air Suspension number two in the Philippines. Excluding of course the Expeditions, Escalades, Cayennes, etc. The first would be Southside Custom’s Impala, which, if you are an avid follower of local car shows, I am sure you are familiar with.

What I have here is a 1999 Nissan Frontier crew cab pick-up with a custom, homemade and hand-built air suspension system that can go all-up, all-down, front-right (up & down) and front-left (up & down). The parts that are not available here were ordered and collected from the U.S.A. and includes the following: 2 Slam Specialties RS-62’s in the back, 2 Slam Specialties RE-62’s in the front, 6 GC Extreme Valves, 1 Viair 350C compressor and a Dakota Digital air pressure guage. All of the custom fabrication for the suspension came from metal scraps at local junk shops and metal-cutting from local machine shops. Installation was supervised and done by me with help from a welder and a mechanic.

The work for this vehicle has now spanned almost a year and is not yet totally finished, but is completely functional. What’s underneatch the body includes: a C-notched chassis (back), custom fabricated triangulated 4-link rear suspension with air bags on the lower bars, re-location of the gas tank at the spare tire area, removal of suspension components in the front (to make room for the air bags), and re-location of all shock absorbers.

At this point (point of no return), I am about 60% satisfied with the design of the system. I completed and perfected the front before dismantling the rear (between a 6-month period) so I am content with it. The rear on the other hand still needs a lot of work. I am thinking of re-doing the complete suspension set-up for the rear just to make it stronger and well, a little more aesthetically pleasing.

The truck rides great, although using it to haul heavy stuff is out of the question, the only other irony to the ride are the 40-series tires which is obviously a pain to have in our road conditions. I do not use the truck daily, but I plan to. It has also been invited to some local car shows but I still think it’s not yet the time. I still have to do a lot to make this ride show-worthy.

If you are all but not the least bit interested in lowriders, hydraulics, air suspension, mini-trucks, or just want to talk about cars in general (or bebots), I bring this truck every Friday @ Petron in Macapagal Avenue (Near Mall of Asia). Look for Team Cramps and look for “bembang.”

1999 Nissan Frontier Air Suspension

My shout-outs to Nissan Minis and Nissan Customs.